In a premises liability case, the plaintiff claims injury from a dangerous condition on the defendant’s property that the defendant was responsible for keeping safe. The extent of the defendant’s liability will vary depending on the law of the particular jurisdiction where the plaintiff’s injury took place.
Some jurisdictions focus on the status of the injured visitor at the time of the harm (i.e. social guest, business invitee, licensee, trespasser, etc.), while other jurisdictions focus on the condition of the property and the activities that the defendant was engaging in at the time of the incident.
Whatever the theory of liability, the plaintiff will be foreclosed from recovering money damage in a premises liability case unless she proves the following four elements: (1) that the defendant owned/occupied/leased the property, (2) that the defendant was negligent in keeping the property safe for others, (3) that the plaintiff suffered bodily injuries, and (4) that it was the defendant’s negligence that specifically caused such bodily injuries to occur.
The deposition of the plaintiff will play a key role in determining whether these four elements have been proven. As the defendant’s attorney questions the plaintiff, he or she will usually be seeking to establish either that the defendant was non-negligent in maintaining the safety of the premises, that the defendant’s negligent maintenance did not bring about the incident in question, or that the plaintiff suffered no significant bodily injuries as a result of the dangerous condition created by the defendant’s negligent conduct.